Networking in the job search involves connecting and interacting with people who can be helpful to you (and whom you can help in return). You want to develop an informal information network you will engage with to gather knowledge about available jobs opportunities.
You created a Company Contacts list when you researched your targeted companies. Now you need to expand beyond your targeted companies to encompass your personal network with whom you interact. Your basic network will include friends, acquaintances, immediate family, distant relatives, professional colleagues, supervisors, and local business professionals (such as your doctor, lawyer, banker, minister, etc.). You should expand this to include individuals you know and have interacted with over the past 10 or more years.
There are many resources to assist you in identifying and extending your network through new associations and organizations. These resources are listed in the Networking Checklist.
Military Colleagues - As a member of the military you already have an extensive network in place. You need to let your military colleagues know that you are actively searching for a job. Military friends and associates who have already transitioned to the private sector can be especially helpful, for they know first-hand where the hidden jobs are within their organizations. For those who you’ve lost touch, use these veteran search websites to locate them:
Military Associations – As a transitioning service member, you have the opportunity to join a variety of military associations, many of which offer some form of job search assistance. Being a member of such an association significantly expands your opportunity to network with other veterans, many of whom are employed in the private sector. Consider joining one or more of these associations.
Professional/Trade Associations – Professional or Trade Associations offer you more networking opportunities within your career field and beyond your military connections. You can identify and connect with fellow professionals by researching and joining these types of associations.
Community Organizations – Joining organizations in your community, such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, faith-based organizations, etc., is a good way to build your local network.
Social Media Sites – By leveraging the power of the Internet, you can extend your networking activities beyond your basic network. Social media tools such as Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook can maximize the chances that your friends, as well as people you may not yet know but share a common interest, will help you identify job leads.
For more tips on using social media effectively in your job search, visit the Corporate Gray Blog and search on "social media" articles. For a more comprehensive explanation of social media job search tools, check out the book Social Media and Your Job Search: Maximizing your Network for a Successful Transition available on the Transition Guide page of Corporate Gray Online and the Corporate Gray Blog.
School/College Alumni Associations – Check to see if your high school or college has an alumni association that offers networking opportunities among members. If your school does not offer this, the social media sites are another way to connect with classmates. For example, you can do a people search at LinkedIn by schools, among many other filters.
There are several networking websites that are a resource for military spouses: